In the Attitude of Gratitude
Well, this marks my first Thanksgiving back from Africa. I spent my first Thanksgiving in the sweltering heat of Paarl, South Africa, which was about an hour outside of Cape Town. I had some pretty bad stomach problems that day and I think we probably went to McDonald’s for dinner. How festive!
My second Thanksgiving was spent in Windhoek, Namibia among some of the greatest missionaries I have ever known. That was a particularly special Thanksgiving, and it’s hard to believe a year has passed since then. I certainly became a lot more grateful for the things I had while being at one time only one of four missionaries in the country, but it took a while for me to see the blessings for what they really were.
Ah, but isn’t that how life is? Sometimes it takes us, God’s own children, a little while to understand the purpose for adversity, trials, and hardship. But time and time again people come out stronger and better because of it.
In describing the attitude of some Holocaust victims, one survivor wrote:
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of…human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, [and] to choose one’s own way [of life].” (1)
And at the end of the day, it is our attitudes that define us. These are difficult times, a time when many find it hard to be grateful. It is perfectly “natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.” (2) We should be grateful that God considers us worth the time to correct and refine! (3)
In fact, it is a great sin to be ungrateful! In D&C 88:33 we read: “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” And of course the ultimate Giver of gifts is our loving Father in heaven.
I have been immensely blessed my whole life, but this past year has been a particularly big blessing. As 2012 commenced, I battled a rigorous illness that landed me in the hospital for several days. The prayers and faith of others helped me completely heal. Towards the middle of the year I finished what was the best two years of and for my life. I was reunited with my family and started school, all of which have been an immense blessing to me. I won’t go on and on about what I am thankful for, but perhaps the words of President Thomas S. Monson will suffice! In speaking of Jesus Christ, he said:
He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. Only He stood alone. Some Apostles doubted; one betrayed Him. The Roman soldiers pierced His side. The angry mob took His life. There yet rings from Golgotha’s hill His compassionate words, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Who was this Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief? Who is this King of glory, this Lord of hosts? He is our Master. He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the author of our salvation. He beckons, “Follow me.” (Matt. 4:19.) He instructs, “Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10:37.) He pleads, “Keep my commandments.” (John 14:15.)
Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His word. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude. (4)
I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving! Remember to be grateful EVERY day of the year 🙂
(1) Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, 104
(2) Lewis, Problem of Pain, 35-36, 38
(3) Christofferson, As Many as I Love I Rebuke and Chasten, Ensign April 2011
(4) Monson, An Attitude of Gratitude, Ensign April 1992